Like the flickering sunrays at the end of the day, Emily was at the sunset of her life. The golden ball of light would soon sink into the sea, and disappear temporarily, until its rise the next morning. That was a ninety-nine percent probability. She had witnessed this certainty throughout her life of eighty-five years. The one percent she put aside as a possibility for things that might happen otherwise. Just in case.
Yet, her life, as an aged mortal, offered her no guarantees that enabled her to witness the dawn tomorrow morning. That was a fact. Besides, as an old person, her beauty had faded away while the eternal splendour of the sunrise and the sunset remained. People did not possess the rejuvenating powers of the elements of nature, which made them preserve their appeal, at least for the duration of a human lifetime on Earth. Their bodies and organs deformed, though their souls remained young.
A dismal picture. Decay and die. When exactly the decaying process began, she couldn’t put a finger on. Maybe it starts at birth, or after puberty? Who knows? We only begin to see its visual signs in mid-life, during our forties and the fifties, and it’s downhill from there.
Emily was not a religious person, but thanked her stars for still being in command of her body and mind. Her movements, thoughts and decisions still under her control, she had wanted to go to the seaside café to watch, perhaps, her final sunset.
At the Retirement Home she had moved into five years ago, relenting to her granddaughter’s will, watching sunsets and sunrises was not an option due to the location of the building and its small grounds. From her home, at the top of the hill in the village, she had seen a myriad of memorable episodes of the same scenes, with different variations of light, cloud and wind, making each one unique.
On this glorious day in April, she had risen at first daylight with the wish to see the sunset that day. Her transport arranged by the staff at the Home, she settled into her reserved scenic seat at The Sunset Café. Her handbag and the just-in-case cane next to her, she ordered a glass of Merlot to enjoy the show.
Memories of long gone beloveds on her mind, she sipped her drink as the colours in the sky changed from golden to pink and coral. The orange sun turned into a crimson hue, and sank into the sea.
Emily lit a cigarette and inhaled. Thinking about her long lost daughter and husband, tears welled in her eyes. The loss of a child is the hardest to bear in life. I could have gone, she could have stayed. Life is unfair. Still, believing Bill was up there somewhere with her, gave her some consolation. At least, she’s not alone. My darling, you wouldn’t be able to cope with it. She fought a losing battle with the illness.
Emily’s mobile rang. She fumbled in her handbag, found the phone and pressed the key. “Hello.”
“Nana, how are you?”
“I’m fine, sweetheart. Just watching the sunset, maybe for the last time?”
“Oh, Nana, why the last time? Don’t make me sad.”
“Sorry, Natalie, I didn’t mean to upset you. Just memories.”
“I know, dearest. Listen, I’m coming to pick you up next Friday to stay with us over the weekend.”
“Ah, you’re planning a birthday party?”
“Yes, and without you, I’d be sad. Say, you’ll come.”
“Of course, I’ll come. But I’m hoping you’ll accept a cash gift from me. No nice shops around here to find something special for your fortieth, and I might buy the wrong thing.”
“Thank you, darling Nana. We’ll go shopping together, if you like.”
“I’ll enjoy that, sweetheart.”
“See you, Nana.”
Emily put the phone in her bag and sipped the remainder of her wine. The pinkish brush strokes against the pale blue sky seemed to promise a few more sunsets and sunrises in her life.
The view from Lapad Bay © raspu / Moment Open / Getty Images